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The Discipline of Secrecy

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People that know me best have told me that I can tend to give too much information about too many things in my life. I call it “wearing my heart on my sleeve” or “using my gifts of exhortation and encouragement.” Others could call it as a lack of wisdom at best, or a need for notoriety at worst. I don’t think it’s the latter, the best I know my heart (which isn’t all that well sometimes – Jeremiah 17:9), but in an effort to test this out a bit, I’ve recently tried to practice the discipline of secrecy in some specific ways.

The Discipline of Secrecy has been defined as “practicing the spirit of Christ reflected in hiddenness, anonymity, lack of display and the holding of confidence” (Adele Ahlberg Calhoun), or “abstaining from causing our good deeds and qualities to be known” (Dallas Willard), or “keeping things from common knowledge or view” (Annonymous) – you get the point.

Here are three helpful things I have learned about the discipline of secrecy as I’ve sought to practice it more consistently:

1. Secrecy Cultivates Intimacy

My wife Dina knows the most intimate things about me, including the secret things I likely wouldn’t tell anyone else. Knowing that I can tell her my secrets, and that she will keep them, and vice-versa, cultivates a level of intimacy that I experience with her alone. When we keep some of the things we sense God has said to us, or ways we sense He has moved through us, to ourselves, it creates intimacy between us and Him. When we share things with Him through prayer, confession, worship, etc., that we don’t share with anyone else, it likewise creates a kind of intimacy that we experience with Him alone. (John 15:15, Galatians 1:16)

2. Secrecy Cultivates Humility

I’m the kind of person that loves telling people all kinds of exciting things about life – things that happen to me, along with things that happen through me. But I’ve found that telling stories about life-events can be a catalyst for pride. These stories can easily become exaggerated, embellished, or focused to little on God and others and too much on ourselves. It’s just so easy for us to become the hero when we’re telling these stories to others. It’s so easy for them to be catalysts for pride more than humility. The discipline of secrecy helps me to grow in humility. If something really exciting happens through me, by God’s grace, and I don’t share it with anyone but God, a certain kind of humility is grown in me. If I’m only sharing the story with Him, He knows the details. The story can never get exaggerated, and He is always the hero. (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:10)

3. Secrecy Cultivates Expectancy

I’ve also found that the more I grow in intimacy with God and humility toward God through secrecy, the more I see God revealing things to me and working through me. This makes sense. God tends to work in and through humble people who desire more intimacy with Him above anything else. In this way, the discipline of secrecy becomes an instrument God uses to give me a sense of expectancy in my life and relationship with Him. (Psalm 25:9, Proverbs 3:34) There are so many other great benefits and fruits of the discipline of secrecy.

These are just a few that I have found particularly helpful. How has God used the discipline of secrecy in your life?

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